The coronavirus has claimed another Blaine County resident, after nearly three months without a death from the virus.
The woman was a Bellevue resident, between the ages of 50 and 59. She died at a hospital in Twin Falls, according to Blaine County Coroner Russ Mikel. She was the sixth Blaine County resident to die with the disease.
“I’m heartbroken, truly,” Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns said on Thursday after hearing the news.
“This is a direct indicator that we need to be more diligent about wearing masks” and following other mitigation measures to prevent the further spread of coronavirus, Burns said.
COVID-19 claimed its first Blaine County victims in March, a man in his 80s and another in his 60s. In April, the virus took three more Blaine people including a male in his 70s and a woman in her 80s. At that time, the coronavirus had killed a total of 18 Idahoans. As of this Thursday morning, 135 Idahoans had died with the virus, including the six locally.
One hundred and eighty-eight people statewide were in hospitals due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19-related complications as of July 18, when those numbers were most recently updated on the state's coronavirus website. Forty-six were in Intensive Care Units throughout the state because of the virus. In an interview earlier this week, St. Luke’s Vice President of Medical Affairs Joshua Kern said the current projections anticipate hospitalization rates to double over the next two weeks, as they have the previous two weeks. That trend would badly strain the capacity of Idaho hospitals, Kern said.
Meanwhile, the state’s caseload continues to soar. Idaho added 500 new cases on Wednesday, pushing the total of confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 to 16,322, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare. Of those, 4,746 had recovered.
Last week, 13 percent of those tested were positive for the disease—about three times the rate through April.
Bellevue and Carey were not included in the City of Ketchum’s antibody study, which was conducted to determine the rate of prevalence within the community. That exclusion makes it difficult to know exactly how many Bellevue and Carey residents have been impacted by the coronavirus, but according to Burns, anecdotally, the number has been “more than just a few,” in a town of under 2,500.
As of Wednesday evening, Blaine County had 562 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, according to the South Central Public Health District. Twelve of those cases were still being monitored by health officials.